The digital-analog divide has raised its head as the Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office and a defense attorney explore evidence in the case of a man accused of killing a South Texas College security guard more than two decades ago.
Roberto Ivanovich Ojeda Hernandez, 40, appeared in court Friday morning for a discovery hearing in his case, where he is charged with capital murder over accusations that he stormed into an STC classroom on Jan. 13, 1998, where students were registering for classes and opened fire.
Carlos Hernandez, 32, died in the gunfire, which injured three other students.
At issue during the hearing Friday were 108 audio cassettes and 16 VHS cassettes encompassing recorded phone calls, witness interviews and investigator dictations.
All of that evidence needs to be converted to digital, a capability the Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office does not have.
The FBI assisted the prosecution with the conversion of two VHS statements from Ojeda, but authorities will have to identify a trusted, secure private company to convert the rest of the evidence, which could take time depending on the backlog and whatever company the parties choose.
It’s also not completely clear what is in the evidence because no one has actually sat and listened to it all.
Mexico’s Federal Ministerial Police arrested Ojeda, who is accused of committing the crime when he was 19, in July 2018 in Reynosa, according to Proceso.
McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez announced the suspect’s extradition at a press conference in March.
“The investigation was by no means complete back in 1998,” Rodriguez said at the time, adding that now that Ojeda is in custody, McAllen police are focusing on determining the identity of a second suspect and whether any others are involved in the crime.
Monitor archives indicate police identified Ojeda as a suspect after tracing a car with Mexican plates believed to be the getaway car and because authorities believe he “had experience at the campus and perhaps maybe had been involved in the (school’s) security service,” Rodriguez said.
His next hearing is scheduled for early December.